The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes for student athletes, including where they spend the day. The transition from in-person instruction to learning through virtual classrooms is one big adjustment many students have had to make this year. In addition to changing how they learn, many students are having to adjust their typical eating routine. Home or not, eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day is critical to keep the brain and body ready to perform on and off the field. Below are some things to remember as you shift your schedule from in-person to virtual instruction, as well as some easy meal ideas.
Not having to catch the bus might save you some time in the morning, but it doesn’t mean you should keep hitting snooze. Try to keep your at-home schedule as similar to your typical school day as possible. That means waking up with enough time to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast. Research shows that eating breakfast, as opposed to skipping a morning meal, benefits cognitive function, especially memory and tasks that require students to pay attention and focus. Breakfast eaters have also been shown to have better overall nutrient intake throughout the day.
- 2 scrambled eggs with 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on whole grain toast with sliced avocado.
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh fruit and 2 tablespoons of nuts over 1/2-3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt drizzled with a little honey.
- A smoothie made with 1 1/2 cups of skim milk, 1 cup of frozen berries and 1 tablespoons of ground flaxseed.
If you’re used to eating a hot lunch in school, being at home can be a big transition. Especially if you’ll now be making your own meal. If that’s the case, don’t sweat it. Consider heating up leftovers or use simple appliances, like a toaster oven or microwave, to make a hot meal. Remember, that a lunch doesn’t have to be hot to be balanced and nutritious. Smoothies, sandwiches, wraps and salads are all easy options.
DELICIOUS LUNCH IDEAS
- A sandwich made with two slices of whole grain bread between 3 ounces of sliced turkey, ham, tuna or roast beef and a slice of cheese. Include lettuce, tomato and avocado to add some veggies and healthy fats.
- A wrap made with 3 tablespoons of hummus, 1 ounce of cheese and your favorite vegetables.
Read this article for more lunch ideas.
One big benefit to learning from home is that it’s easier to incorporate snacks into your day. If you have an early lunch period (before 11:30 a.m.), plan to have a snack around 2 or 2:30 p.m. If you have a later lunch slot (after 11:30 a.m.), consider having a mid-morning snack a couple hours after breakfast.
BALANCED SNACK IDEAS
- One ounce of low-fat cheese on 5-6 whole grain crackers.
- 8-12 ounce glass of milk or chocolate milk.
- Banana with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
- Trail mix made with 2 tablespoons of nuts and 2 tablespoons of dried fruit
Check out this video for an easy (but unique) snack idea using apples and cheddar cheese from one of our sports nutrition advisory panelists.
Staying hydrated throughout the school day is also essential. You can do that by continuously sipping fluids throughout the day. Fill up your favorite water bottle first thing in the morning and keep it in-sight, on your desk, so that you remember to drink. Be sure to incorporate fluids into your meals and snacks, with items like soups, yogurt drinks, smoothies and more.
- Milk - white or flavored
- 100% Juice
- Yogurt drinks
It may be harder to focus on nutrition during this schedule-altering pandemic, but by incorporating these tips and meal ideas you’ll be sure to succeed both in the classroom and on the field.
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.